Often, people kick themselves out of the running in the hiring process because they don’t thoroughly prepare themselves for the interview. It may seem daunting to go the extra mile but there are many ways to not only prepare you for a successful interview but also build your confidence. Of course, you never know exactly what to expect in your interview but the more you’re prepared upfront, the more you’re going to impress the employer. Here is a guideline on how to prepare for an interview in sales.
Research is one of the most important steps you can take to help you prepare for your interview. It will help build your knowledge and deepen your understanding of the company, its culture, and values so you can better align yourself with what they’re looking for in the ideal candidate. Employers can tell how interested you are in the role based on how much research you’ve done. The more you know, the more you will convey your interest in the role to the employer. Let’s take a look at some areas research can be done.
- Company Website
- What are the products/services they offer?
- How long have they been in business?
- Who are their potential clients?
- Job Description
- What kind of background/experience is required?
- What soft skills are they looking for?
- What is the hiring manager’s background/experience?
- Do you have anything in common with them or common connections?
- How long they’ve been with the company?
- What are employees’ backgrounds/experiences?
- Is there anyone you know working in the company?
- What are their strengths/skills like?
- What is the hiring manager’s background/experience?
- Google research
- Are there any articles written on the company?
- Has the company ever been on the news?
- What are their stock prices like?
- What do their financial statements look like?
- Is the company in growth mode?
- Are they financially stable?
- What industry does the company perform in?
- Is it a stable industry?
- Who are their competitors?
- How well are they performing compared to them?
- Are employees satisfied?
- What are some comments people have made about the working conditions/environment?
Once you’ve done your research, it’s time to put everything into practice. You want to make a list of as many questions as you can with corresponding answers. By doing this, you will have an idea of what to expect, ultimately making you feel more confident during the process. The pandemic has changed the nature of interviews but there still remains virtual etiquette that can also be followed to make a better impression on the employer.
- Make a List of Questions you May be Asked.
- Why did you get into sales?
- Why do you feel you are ideally suited for this position?
- What are your greatest strengths/weaknesses?
- What are your career goals for the next 5 years?
- Pitch me your current company/product/service.
- Make a List of Questions to Ask the Hiring Manager.
Remember you are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you. You want to make sure this is the right fit and a company/product you can become passionate about selling.
- Is there any reason that you feel I may not be a good fit for this opportunity?
- What is the most challenging aspect of this position?
- What are the next steps in the hiring process?
- Mock Interview
- Have someone you know take on the role of the employer and ask you a series of questions
- You may think you’re prepared by practicing on your own, but a mock interview will give you a better sense of how the interview will flow
- Expect the Unexpected
- If you do not know the answer to a technical question you’re asked, simply be honest and say you will get back to the employer
- Shift your answers to emphasize what you do know, what you can do, and what you’re open to learning rather than focusing on the negatives
- When you are put on the spot, take a moment to pause and think of an answer
- Non-verbal Communication
- Make sure your posture is upright and not slouched over
- Use hand gestures to engage the employer when talking
- Remain serious and professional but don’t forget to smile!
- Verbal Communication
- You want to use a tone that’s not too aggressive and not too soft
- Your speaking volume should be at a level where the employer can comfortably hear you
- Pace yourself when speaking to ensure you don’t come off as nervous if you’re speaking too fast and boring if you’re speaking too slow
With virtual interviews becoming more common, there are key aspects of your setup that have become the new standard for a quality presentation. Many people overlook the significance of appearance but rest assured it will make a huge difference.
- Make sure your background is not cluttered
- Aim for natural lighting
- Make sure you are entirely in the frame and your camera is set up straight
- Dress to impress
- Print a copy of your resume for your own reference
The interview follow-up will show your level of professionalism and eagerness to work for the employer and company. You want to come off as genuine as possible so keep it short, sweet, and personable. Try to avoid following a basic template off the internet so it doesn’t seem like a general email being sent to multiple employers, make it personal.
- Send a thank-you email for the interviewer’s time within 48 hours of the interview.
- Send a follow-up email 2 weeks after your initial interview.
Some final tips:
- Do not be an over-talker! This shows a lack of confidence.
- Be straight to the point and make sure you are not going off on a tangent.
- Be yourself and let your personality show in the interview process.
Putting it all together
Keep in mind, that employers are aware that interviews are a stressful process so do not overthink the outcome of the interview but rather what you can do to sell yourself. Your competitive advantage over other applicants will be your personality and how well you’ve prepared yourself. Mastering the interview process takes time and practice so do not be discouraged if the first one does not go well. You will build your confidence and interview skills over time.
Author: Bryan Payne is the Chief Talent Scout and Founding Partner at Just Sales Jobs with over 25-years of experience in sales and leading high-performance sales teams. Bryan and his team specialize in recruiting top talent within the Greater Toronto Area to Kitchener Waterloo. You can reach him at email@example.com